In the healthcare sector, maintaining high standards of quality and safety is of paramount importance. To ensure consistent delivery of exceptional care, healthcare organisations in Australia adhere to the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) standards. But once accreditation has been achieved, the question arises, what now?
To uphold the standards presented by the NSQHS, it is important to undergo continuous compliance and get your accreditation renewed every few years.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation evaluates healthcare organisations’ performance against a set of national healthcare standards. In Australia, these standards are set by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality and are known as the National Safety and Quality Health Services (NSQHS) Standards. These standards cover a wide range of areas such as patient care, safety and governance and risk management.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is important for several reasons, such as:
- It assures patients and the public that an organisation meets the required quality standards.
- Getting accredited helps organisations identify areas for improvement.
- Accreditation leads to better patient outcomes.
- Accreditation and continuous compliance can reduce the risk of lawsuits associated with medical negligence.
In Australia, there are very few organisations that are approved for accreditation purposes. These include:
- Australian Council on Healthcare Standards(ACHS)
- Certification Partner Global (CPG)
- Global Mark Pty Ltd
- HDAA Australia Pty Ltd
- Institute for Healthy Communities Australia Certification (IHCA) Inc
- Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) Limited.
How to Get Accredited?
To achieve NSQHS accreditation, the accrediting body will conduct an assessment of the organisation’s compliance with the standards. If the organisation is found to comply, it will be accredited. Healthcare organisations can also enlist the help of these accrediting bodies for healthcare consulting. Healthcare consulting can help organisations improve the quality of services and patient outcomes, thus improving reliability and reputation.
It is important to remember that accreditation is not a one-time process and to remain accredited, organisations need to demonstrate continuous compliance with the standards.
Typically, accreditation lasts 3-4 years depending on the accrediting agency. During this process, the healthcare organisation can undergo self-assessment to make sure they are still compliant with these standards. And at the end of this cycle, they can apply for an accreditation renewal.
What is Accreditation Renewal?
Accreditation renewal is the process by which healthcare organizations in Australia undergo an evaluation to determine their continued compliance with the NSQHS standards. This is usually conducted three to four years after the first accreditation and is led by an independent accrediting body such as the one mentioned above.
By renewing their accreditation, healthcare organizations confirm that their providers are consistently meeting the required standards of quality and safety. Through accreditation renewal, healthcare organizations demonstrate their commitment to delivering safe, reliable and effective care to their patients. It serves as a benchmark for excellence, assuring patients, healthcare professionals and stakeholders that the organization meets the highest quality standards.
How to Maintain High Standards to Remain Accredited
To ensure your healthcare facility meets NSQHS Standards consistently over time, the organization can adopt the following strategies:
Establish a Compliance Team:
Designate a dedicated team responsible for overseeing compliance with the NSQHS Standards. This team should include a representative and two from each department to ensure comprehensive coverage across the board.
Regular Audits and Self-Assessments:
To find areas of non-compliance and chances for improvement, carry out routine internal audits and self-evaluations. Address any gaps promptly and put corrective measures in place.
Training and Education:
Provide ongoing training and education to all healthcare professionals to ensure they stay updated with the latest standards and best practices. This can also help your staff to complete their CPD requirements, helping them keep their licenses. For example, nurses and midwives in your organization can be booked into CPD courses for nurses in Australia once or twice a year to meet their CPD hours.
Continuous Quality Improvement:
Foster a culture of continuous quality improvement by encouraging staff to participate in quality improvement projects and share their suggestions for enhancing patient care.
Maintain accurate and up-to-date documentation of policies, procedures and quality improvement initiatives. This documentation serves as evidence of compliance during accreditation renewal assessments.
What are the Benefits of Continuous Compliance?
While accreditation renewal is a periodic process, continuous compliance is an ongoing commitment that healthcare organisations must prioritise. By ensuring continuous compliance, healthcare organisations can reap the following benefits:
Improved Patient Safety:
Continuous compliance ensures that patient safety protocols are consistently followed, minimising the risk of adverse events. It encourages the implementation of evidence-based practices and the regular review of policies and procedures to identify areas for improvement.
Enhanced Quality of Care:
By adhering to the NSQHS Standards on an ongoing basis, healthcare organisations can deliver higher-quality care. This includes promoting clinical governance, fostering a culture of learning and improvement, and implementing effective systems for risk management and incident reporting.
Increased Staff Engagement:
Continuous compliance fosters a sense of ownership and engagement among healthcare professionals. It empowers them to actively participate in quality improvement initiatives, share their insights, and contribute to the overall enhancement of patient care.
Demonstrating a commitment to continuous compliance and maintaining high standards can enhance the reputation of healthcare organisations. This can attract patients, encourage collaboration with other healthcare providers, and build trust among stakeholders.
Maintaining accreditation is important for healthcare organisations that want to provide high-quality care to their patients. By following the steps outlined above, organisations can improve their chances of consistently meeting national healthcare standards and successfully clearing accreditation renewal assessments.
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